While farmers and contractors were happy to be back at Punchestown for the Farm Tractor and Machinery Trade Association (FTMTA) machinery show on Wednesday, diesel prices remain a big worry.

Diesel prices were “frightening” this year, but price gouging is also a major concern, according to Kerry drystock farmer Donal Murphy.

“There is a lot of price gouging going on. Diesel can be 6c/l cheaper from one crowd to the other if you actually price them,” he said.

The Rathmore native said he made the same amount of silage as usual this year, however he anticipates a much higher contractor bill.

“We didn’t get a bill yet, but you’d be afraid of what it’s going to be, between plastic, diesel and the price in general going up,” he said.

There are talks of €175/ac for pit silage this year and a roll of wrap for bales is costing around the €119 mark, dairy farmer Enda Nugent from Scariff, Co Clare, told the Irish Farmers Journal.

Farmer and contractor David Fennelly from Portlaoise, Co Laois, said that diesel prices are ultimately leading to higher contracting costs.

“It’s tough at the minute because we have to put it back on the farmer. Costs are going up, what you’re paying for labour has to go up to get decent drivers. You’d be giving €18/hour now to get a good driver.

“Plastic costs have gone up, €115 is the best for a roll of wrap this year around us and that’s only doing 28 bales. It was only €78 a roll last year,” he said.

Fennelly said that the outlook for the contracting industry is difficult at the moment, adding that “people who are in it are in it, but it’s hard for young people to come up.”

Fennelly said that as well as the ever increasing costs of machinery, availability is another issue.

“If you want to order a new tractor now, you’d want to order it a year in advance to get it,” he said.

Pat Nugent from Clerihan, Co Tipperary, has 300ac of tillage and does all his own machinery work.

“We haven’t really hit harvest yet, but all our costs increased. Fertiliser more than doubled, chemicals all went up a lot as well and the good ones went off the market. Bravo is probably the biggest hit cost wise with sprays,” he said.